We’re writing this letter late in the day on the Saturday before the Saturday before our winter close. There’s a light flurry of snow falling outside. It’s warm in here and every once in a while a customer waves goodbye and heads back outside holding a newly bought present wrapped in gold paper. As the day winds down and the foot traffic subsides, we have enough downtime to reflect on what a remarkable few months it’s been at the store. You all keep coming in and writing to us and ordering books. You keep recommending us to your friends and attending our events and buying gift certificates for the aspiring poets in your lives. You all are keeping this incredible store going. Thank you.
As a reminder, we’ll be open until 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 24, for any last-minute shopping or last-minute escapism you may need. Between now and December 30 we’re holding a book drive with all donations going to the wonderful Books To Prisoners nonprofit organization based here in Seattle. Bring a book of any genre to donate (for a list of preferred books, visit their website here) and pick up a complimentary book of poetry on your way out. We’ll be closed for inventory and a bit of rest beginning Saturday, December 31. We’ll reopen Tuesday, January 10, for our usual hours, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For those of you who’ve made it to some of our events this fall, we hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as we have. For those who haven’t had the chance, you’ll have many more opportunities in 2017. We’re continually adding events to our calendar, so be sure to check our events page often. We’re also pleased to continue bookselling for events at Hugo House and Seattle Arts & Lectures. They’re both wonderful organizations, and we’re looking forward to enjoying all the fine programming they have planned for the coming year.
Now, on to the books! We were delighted when one of our favorite distributors, Small Press Distribution, suggested us for a Literary Hub series on independent bookstores. SPD is where we find many of our small press treasures and iconic debut collections, so we had a great time calling out a few titles from their incredible catalogue. You can read our list of selections here.
For those of you looking for that fine little something of a book during the holiday season, Envelope Poems is a gorgeous, pocket-sized reproduction of Emily Dickinson’s handwritten poems. Looking for something with some literal heft? Shakespeare and Company: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart, edited by Krista Halverson, is an eclectic journey through the history of the legendary Paris-based bookshop. And who can go wrong with Anne Carson? Her most recent collection, Float, made up of 22 independent chapbooks in a clear plastic case, moves graciously from essay to poem to lecture on everything from Iceland to Greek metaphor to Gertrude Stein. From Float: “I brush words against words. / So do we follow ourselves out of youth, / brushing, brushing, brushing wild grapes onto truth.”
December has proven itself to be the month of second-hand treasures! Please peruse our most recent used books posts—one from early in the month and another from later—where you’ll encounter some notable, gift-worthy collections, such as C.D. Wright’s deeply affecting third book, Translations of the Gospel Back into Tongues; a signed first edition of the inimitable Adrienne Rich’s Snapshots of a Daughter-in–Law; a signed first edition of Campbell McGrath’s auspicious Capitalism; Nobel Prize–winner Wole Soyinka’s 1971 prison memoir, also a signed first edition; and a few very special Wallace Stevens collections, including The Auroras of Autumn and his mystical debut, Harmonium, in its breathtaking first edition, from 1923.
In local news, this city continues to astonish us with its poetic riches. Here are just a few of the recent books and chapbooks you can find here from this area’s remarkable community of poets: This Glittering Republic, by Quenton Baker; This City, by Claudia Castro Luna; What Weaponry, by Elizabeth Colen; Field Guide to the End of the World, by Jeannine Hall Gailey; My, My, My, My, My, by Tara Hardy; Minding the Muse, by Priscilla Long; Wilderness Lessons, by JM Miller; House of Water, by Matthew Nienow; (A)Live Heart, by Imani Sims; 26, by Anastacia Tolbert; and Overpour, by Jane Wong.
Lastly, this month’s issue of Poetry features artwork by our very own Gabrielle Bates. Gabrielle’s work has also been a beautiful presence in our store since we reopened in September. Next up, we’re featuring local poet and poetry-comic artist Catherine Bresner, whose experiments with erasure and collage have appeared in such journals as Ink Brick, The Offing, and Heavy Feather Review. We’ve also added another visual delight to our walls available for purchase: Laked, Fielded, Blanked, a poetry quilt featuring poetry by Brooklyn Copeland, screen printing and artwork by Barbara Pronsanto, hand embroidery with linen thread by editor and designer Amber Nelson, and assemblage by Laura Nelson. Stunning!
In closing, we offer the following poem from Ed Skoog’s latest collection, Run the Red Lights, for you to savor as you head into the winter solstice and on to the new year:
This is how winter passes.
The baby plays with a mirror.
There’s nothing outside he knows.
Branches open in the hedge.
People drive long distances.
The world’s face is half
in shadow, like his.
He wakes, is fed, sleeps again.
Outside rages and deepens.
In the mirror, the baby returns
to the two-player game, each
each time becoming
more and less familiar.
Wishing you warmth this winter,
Your Friends at Open Books